Tess Holliday Doesn't Want People to Get Cosmetic Procedures 'to Fit Into a Trend'

The model shared her thoughts in a recent TikTok video.

Tess Holliday
Photo: Getty Images

More and more people are looking to enhance their appearance by way of injectables, cosmetic treatments, and surgeries, and studies show use of social media increases desire for such procedures. But model Tess Holliday has a message for those who might seek out elective cosmetic procedures: "Don't do anything to your body to fit into a trend. Don't do it."

Holliday recently became aware that people have been looking to plus-size models, including herself and Ashley Graham, for plastic surgery "inspo," — namely, when seeking out a Brazilian butt lift (BBL), she explained in a recent TikTok video. A BBL — aka gluteal fat grafting — is a two-part procedure, beginning with liposuction on another part of the body (such as the abdomen, thighs, or back) that is then strategically injected into the hips and buttocks, using a thin surgical tube to create the hourglass shape coveted by so many.

Chances are, you've seen plenty of BBL chatter on your own social media feeds lately. The New York Times Magazine named the BBL one of the most popular procedures of the past decade, and more than 40,000 people got buttocks augmentations just in the year 2020, reports The Aesthetic Society. Some corners of the Internet think Kim Kardashian had a Brazilian butt lift only to have it removed or reduced (though Kardashian hasn't admitted to either claim). Additionally, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj have both been open about receiving potentially risky butt injections of their own.

It's also impossible to talk about the Brazilian butt lift without acknowledging the problematic nature of treating a body type specifically tied to African descendants as a commodity that people can procure while it's in trend. Touting the BBL as a trendy procedure desired by rich and famous (and often notably, non-Black) celebrities contributes to the objectification of Black women.

While Holliday isn't here to shame anyone for seeking out these or other cosmetic procedures, she doesn't want fans and followers to risk their health and well-being while chasing trends. "I am pro-plastic surgery. I'm pro do whatever you wanna do with your body. I have Dolly [Parton] tattooed on me for a reason," said Holliday in the clip. "I'm just here to remind you guys that these are trends."

As Holliday suggests in her TikTok, a BBL is a potentially dangerous procedure. If not performed correctly, surgeons can accidentally inject fat into a blood vessel and clog it, causing the fat to enter the bloodstream. If this happens, the fat can travel through the veins in the buttocks to pulmonary arteries and the heart, causing fat embolisms, Steven Williams, M.D., a board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon, tells Shape. Fat embolisms can be "incredibly serious complications" that can even result in death, says Dr. Williams. The procedure can also cause fat migration beneath the muscle, leading to gluteal tears, he adds.

Back in 2018, multiple plastic surgery societies created a joint task force to raise awareness about the dangers of BBLs, which have a "very, very high mortality rate," according to J. Peter Rubin, M.D., president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and endowed professor and chair of plastic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The mortality rate for BBLs has improved from one in about 3,400 people in 2017 to one in nearly 15,000 in 2019, according to a 2020 study published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.

Still, no cosmetic procedure is completely without risk, which is why Holliday is hoping her fans and followers take the safety of their bodies seriously. "Yes I got lip filler yearsss ago, and I get Botox occasionally for ME 💞 but plz remember that some of these procedures are life threatening & do your research," wrote Holliday.

Dr. Williams agrees with Holliday's advice to do research before getting a procedure, suggesting patients seek out board-certified plastic surgeons and inquire about their surgeon's experience, technique, and risk-minimizing efforts. "Important factors, like follow up appointments, common complications and how they are managed, and the number of procedures that have been successfully performed should also be discussed," he adds.

Holliday concludes her video with a message about embracing who are. "I was told my entire life that how I am was not good enough, and I have made money off of how I am. So don't change it. If you want to, great, but don't feel like you have to. You're perfect as you are," concluded Holliday in her TikTok. It's a solid reminder to eschew the notion that a body type is a trend, no matter what you might see when you scroll on social media.

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